Date: October 30, 2020

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

Calvin computer science professor Derek Schuurman wrote about our collective COVID-19 response for a Canadian publication called Christian Courier.

He said: "It would be a wonderful witness if Calvin’s communal covenant to show love for one’s neighbour could restrain the infection trends which have plagued many other post-secondary institutions. In the meantime, I am grateful, for now, to be able to see my student’s faces in person (albeit covered in masks) and enjoy the opportunity to meet as an embodied community of learners."

He wrote the piece during our first week of classes together, not knowing how things might play out. Now, less than a month away from Thanksgiving, and the end of our embodied fall semester time together, we are grateful for the love that the Calvin community has demonstrated day after day. Together, let's finish strong.


This week's email includes some important updates:

  • New Saturday building hours
  • New guidance on eating meals together
  • Best practices for car pooling
  • On campus after Thanksgiving
  • Standing at “the edge of a cliff”


Effective immediately, we are adding building hours on Saturdays to match the Monday-Friday hours. Access hours for students, faculty, and staff for academic buildings is now 7:30 am to 9:30 pm Monday-Saturday with no access on Sundays. This will be in effect up until Thanksgiving, at which point hours will be scaled back to reflect the campus shift to remote learning. We will update the campus on what post-Thanksgiving building hours will look like once we have finalized those plans.

As you use building spaces, please remember to dispose of food waste and food containers in Calvin receptacles (outside of buildings). Also, please be sure to clean and disinfect common touch points using the cleaning supplies provided throughout campus.


Eating together is a beautiful way to connect and build relationships, and in a time of COVID-19, the restrictions on communal meals are a particular point of pain. We recognize the tensions around this issue and are constantly looking at our approach. Here is our latest thinking on meals that are not within designated eating areas such as the dining halls:

  • Groups of 10 people or fewer can meet and eat a meal together (while stationary and distanced at least six feet)
  • The meal should happen at the beginning of the meeting
  • After the meal, everyone should put their masks back on to continue the meeting
  • Drinks with straws can be consumed throughout the meeting (with the straw slipped under the mask)

Unfortunately, at this time, groups of more than 10 should not share a meal together. As always, this current restriction will be reassessed when and if the spread of the virus subsides. In the meantime, here are some options for groups of more than 10:

  • The group could eat a pre-packaged snack together (which should be consumed at the beginning of the meeting while stationary and distanced)
  • Pre-packaged snacks can be offered to participants as they leave the meeting
  • After eating, everyone should put their masks back on to continue the meeting
  • Drinks with straws can be consumed throughout the meeting (with the straw slipped under the mask)


We discourage shared transportation with individuals outside of your immediate social circle since such situations would require quarantine if another individual in the vehicle tests positive for COVID-19. If shared transportation is not avoidable, practice the following:

  • All in the car need to wear a face mask
  • Limit occupants to 50% of vehicle capacity
  • Practice physical distancing as much as possible (in a car, the passenger would sit in the backseat diagonal from the driver)
  • The bigger the vehicle, the better to allow distancing (vans are better than cars)
  • Travel with windows open and/or use the vehicle’s vents for fresh air circulation
  • Clean and disinfect common touchpoints within the vehicle after transporting passengers


We are less than four weeks away from Thanksgiving when most of our on-campus students will depart for the semester. At this point, fewer than 200 students have requested permission to live on campus between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We plan to retain some services for these students and will communicate these details in the coming weeks. In addition to housing and dining, we hope to have some limited hours available in the Hekman Library and Spoelhof Fieldhouse (specific hours to be determined), as well as minimal access to some classroom spaces as needed.

Those faculty and staff without essential on-campus job functions (work that needs to be done on campus) are encouraged to work remotely after Thanksgiving whenever it is feasible, especially given the current virus trends in our community. We anticipate that some faculty and staff will be on campus during this time (for example, faculty members may facilitate an online course session from their regular classrooms, and staff members may need to be on campus to perform critical functions of their work).

Also, in consultation with their supervisors, student employees may continue working remotely if they do so within the state of Michigan.

Thank you for your help and persistence as we work to keep our community, and the students who are staying on campus, as safe as possible.


In media reports this week, Dr. Darryl Elmouchi, president of Spectrum Health West Michigan, said that Kent County is “standing on the edge of a cliff, and we could, if everyone does the right thing, and we get a little lucky over the coming days to weeks, we could be able to walk back and not see these COVID numbers exponentially rise." Let's do our part at Calvin. In the remaining weeks we are together on campus, please continue to monitor your health and report through #CampusClear, wear your mask, practice physical distancing, and avoid social gatherings.


Grand Rapids Magazine story about city's advice for a safe Halloween

Halloween risk level for the U.S. by county

Calvin COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

The COVID-Response Team

Kristen Alford

Jennifer Ambrose

Laura Champion

Todd Dornbos

Jim English

Todd Hubers (co-chair)

Matt Kucinski

Brian Paige

Sarah Visser (co-chair)

John Witte